atheist news feeds
I don’t subscribe to HBO, so I missed the new documentary on creationism, Questioning Darwin. I did manage to catch a few clips, like this one from Gawker. Hear creationists say what they really think!
Amanda Marcotte has a sound take on their position. It’s not stupidity driving these weird excuses, it’s fear.
By going back and forth between creationists and Darwin’s life story, the documentary crafts a compelling image of the conflict between two world views: That of curiosity and that of incuriosity/fear. I agree with the New York Times reviewer that the creationists are presented non-judgementally, but as these clips amassed by Gawker make clear, the creationists do all the work for you anyway. There’s a pastor explaining he would have to accept it if the Bible said “2+2=5″ and people talking, over and over again, about the strategies they have to employ to shut down their minds in the event that they’re presented with an opportunity to think more broadly. The major emotion that comes off them in waves is that of fear: Fear of asking questions, fear of the “world” (which is always talked about negatively), fear of difference, fear that thinking might lead them into dark places, fear that they really aren’t special that manifests in making up a God who loves you so you never have to go a moment without that feeling, fear that they will fall into the abyss without blind obedience to authority, and, of course, fear of death.
Exactly. These people are not incapable of understanding evolution; they are instead practicing motivated reasoning, and are being entirely rational in fleeing into irrationality, because they don’t know how to cope without their beloved myths and fantasy stories.
Arguments from Ed the Internet Atheist
I think once again the theist is trying to find ways to attack atheists, and as there are few lagitimate arguments for the theist they resort to things like this, some sort of hypocrisy, although you don't have to be a rocket scientist to tell the ...
Is it really worth it to order from Amazon? Read this exposé of Amazon’s labor practices — they are ruthless, demeaning, and evil.
At the Allentown warehouse, Stephen Dallal, also a “picker,” found that his output targets increased the longer he worked at the warehouse, doubling after six months. “It started with 75 pieces an hour, then 100 pieces an hour. Then 150 pieces an hour. They just got faster and faster.” He too was written up for not meeting his targets and was fired.27 At the Seattle warehouse where the writer Vanessa Veselka worked as an underground union organizer, an American Stakhnovism pervaded the depot. When she was on the line as a packer and her output slipped, the “lead” was on to her with “I need more from you today. We’re trying to hit 14,000 over these next few hours.”
Beyond this poisonous mixture of Taylorism and Stakhnovism, laced with twenty-first-century IT, there is, in Amazon’s treatment of its employees, a pervasive culture of meanness and mistrust that sits ill with its moralizing about care and trust—for customers, but not for the employees. So, for example, the company forces its employees to go through scanning checkpoints when both entering and leaving the depots, to guard against theft, and sets up checkpoints within the depot, which employees must stand in line to clear before entering the cafeteria, leading to what Amazon’s German employees call Pausenklau (break theft), shrinking the employee’s lunch break from thirty to twenty minutes, when they barely have time to eat their meal.
That’s just a small sample. If you work for Amazon, you’re a modern serf, relentlessly monitored and given increasingly unreachable goals.
Jeff Bezos has a net worth of 27 billion dollars. Do you think he works even a tenth as hard as the wage slaves he’s got working in his “fulfillment centers”?
One thing this story makes clear, at least, that a key element in the process of achieving some kind of equality is a vital labor movement.
It’s always amusing to see sexists pretending to be rational. Martin Daubney tries so hard to be reasonable when he argues that chivalry is dead and feminism is to blame.
There is an abundance of male behaviour that is deserving of fierce criticism. But I lose the will to live when feminist bloggers find sexism in places where it doesn’t exist, and draw a line from something trivial and stupid (say, a pink child’s bib with the logo “born to shop” on it) to something serious and frightening (eg rape culture). [I think you'll find that most feminists are quite conscious of the degrees of sexism. But who are you, Martin Daubney, to say where the line is to be drawn? Do you have the privilege to say what is acceptable sexism?]
Wolf whistles, the “pinkification” of children’s toys, The Sun calling high-profile women “fillies” – these seem more sad and silly to me than genuinely sexist.[Uh, you know that sexism can be sad and silly, right?]
The problem is, this remorseless public shaming of men doesn’t just out the morons. [It's done a pretty good job of outing Martin Daubney.] It drives the rest of us [Seriously? You think you're not one of the morons?] into hiding. As the This Morning survey showed, the broader collateral damage is that men are not as nice towards women as they were. [I've never gotten this argument. Shouldn't we be nice towards our fellow men, too?] Chivalry is withering on the vine. [That sounds like good news to me!]
I think our problem is our definition of “nice” is different. I think it’s “nice” to treat other people as equals. Martin Daubney thinks it would be nice to exercise a patronizing chivalry that makes him a better person than those helpless little women.
'Atheist's History' is evolving story that's beyond belief
“As the son of a Manx Methodist atheist and a refugee German Jewish atheist,” Matthew Kneale tells us in the first sentence of “An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention,” “I have never been much of a believer.” It ...
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Book by atheist tries telling the story of human belief
Press of Atlantic City
"As the son of a Manx Methodist atheist and a refugee German Jewish atheist," Matthew Kneale tells us in the first sentence of "An Atheist's History of Belief: Under-standing Our Most Extraordinary Invention," "I have never been much of a believer." It ...
and more »
After prolonged unrest and violence in the streets, the Ukrainian parliament voted to oust President Yanukovych — which Yanukovych called a “fascist coup” while trying to flee the country. Meanwhile, as the corruption of his regime dissolves away, peaceful protestors march on the presidential compound. What do they find? Impressive opulence and that the president had his very own private zoo.
A peaceful transition that kicks out the rich exploiters and opens the doors to the public? Yes, please. Can we have one of those, too?
I don’t say this lightly, but Saletan is one of the more dishonest pundits out there — I’ve read multiple columns by this guy where he lies with numbers and fudges the evidence to fit his preconceptions, and this is no exception. He’s once again arguing that creationism is compatible with science, and he has to make some dodgy claims to do so. Look here:
And what about the engineers in Ken Ham’s videos—the guys who made demonstrable contributions to science and technology while declaring themselves young-Earth creationists? Those men are what a good social scientist would call “evidence.” They back up the hypothesis that you can be a perfectly good engineer while believing nonsense about the origins of life. We can’t wave that evidence away, any more than we can wave away fossils.
The alternative hypothesis, advanced by McElwee, is that “to espouse [creationism] is to preclude practicing science.” The engineers in Ham’s video falsify that hypothesis. They espouse creationism while successfully practicing science.
Do you see the lie? He eases into it so artfully; these are guys who made “contributions to science and technology” drifts into “you can be a perfectly good engineer” and then he wraps it up by noting that the engineers in Ham’s claims practice science.
Engineers can practice real science, but an engineer is not the same thing as a scientist. I agree that creationists can be perfectly good engineers, but how can you trust the scientific acumen of someone who insists that the earth is only 6,000 years old? That says right there that they have no respect for the evidence. How can Saletan ignore Ham’s bogus distinction between historical and observational science, in which he flatly rejects any possibility of inference about the past from the present? This creationism is utterly incompatible with biology, anthropology, geology, astronomy, climate science, geochemistry, cosmology, and any other science that deals with cause and effect and history. These sciences apparently do not matter to Saletan, as long as engineers make satellites and doctors do surgery.
Saletan cites Ham’s videos as falsifying the claim that creationism is incompatible with science. Ken Ham makes a big deal of this, too.
There are a few problems there. Who says Ray Damadian invented the MRI? Why, Ray Damadian. The Nobel Committee disagrees, since they gave the 2003 prize to Lauterbur and Mansfield for their work on the MRI. Damadian contributed to some aspects of the engineering, but he didn’t ‘invent’ the thing — there was a whole series of people who contributed.
But even if he had been the sole inventor, as Ray Damadian and creationists love to pretend, it doesn’t change the fact that creationism, and Ham’s ignorant redefinition of science, does irreparable harm to science and science education. That two non-scientists, Ken Ham and William Saletan, are urging everyone to ignore lies and delusions and misrepresentations, does not change the fact that any science that takes history seriously gets flushed away by their foolishness.
The image of creationism as an oncoming threat rather than a receding symptom is just another hypothesis. So is the claim that you can’t practice good science while being a creationist. These hypotheses are much beloved among liberals, atheists, and scientists. But the facts are opposed to them. Give them up.
“Much beloved”? What the fuck? What we see is bad science being promoted by a kook with a religious agenda, and useful idiots like Saletan promoting blissful neglect and agreeing with creationists. I am not giving up on biology, which is what Saletan is asking me to do. I am giving up on Saletan.
As pointed out in the comments, Atrios has an excellent takedown of Lord Saletan. I agree with every word.
There’s a new app called Spreadsheets. This is not new; there are millions of apps, and 95% of them are crap. Spreadsheets purports to use the accelerometer and microphone in your smartphone to measure your sexual performance — a kind of fitbit for sex (do not tell my wife, she’s already slightly obsessed with her fitbit stats).
I find the whole idea a little weird, and have zero interest in the thing, but whatever floats your boat, ‘k? But here’s what I find offensive and stupid: calling the noise from these smartphone stats a study of sex duration in America. It’s basically a sex toy that will be used sporadically and idiosyncratically, and you’re not going to get anything that could be called “information” out of it. Case in point: look at the data on intercourse duration.
That makes no sense. Why would you even expect variation to fall in the arbitrary boundary lines of the states? For instance, the part of Minnesota where I live is, culturally and geographically, very similar to the Dakotas, yet somehow I’m supposed to believe that there’s some kind of remarkable transition in sexual behavior over there? Why? Show me the variance in the data. Give me a somewhat finer grained breakdown. What these data show is that what they’re measuring is patternless and random.
The one message I take from that figure is this: dudes, your app doesn’t work.
When I rule the universe, there shall be a sacred rule: thou shalt not mingle images of the holy cephalopod with those of the wicked feline, for these are FALSE IDOLS which shall evoke my righteous wrath.
Atheist group objects to police chaplains
Atheist group objects to police chaplains. story image. Feb 21, 2014 10:09 p.m.. LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A group of atheists wants Wisconsin police departments to stop using chaplains. The La Crosse Tribune reports that the Freedom from Religion Foundation ...
Atheist group to La Crosse police: Stop using chaplainsGreen Bay Press Gazette
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Atheist group objects to police chaplains
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - A group of atheists wants Wisconsin police departments to stop using chaplains. The La Crosse Tribune reports that the Freedom from Religion Foundation has sent a letter to the La Crosse police department, arguing that the ...
Right now! They’re battling it out on the nature of the universe in a God and Cosmology Debate.
The preliminaries started at 7, my time. You missed the opening prayer in which the officiant begged god to lead everyone to a deeper understanding of the truth, concluding with the declaration that Jesus is the truth. I think the deck is stacked.
Well, sort of. I expect Carroll to mop the floor with Craig, because he has the understanding, Craig just has the rote rhetoric.
We’re at the intermission. Here’s the short summary of the debate so far:
Craig: I’m going to pretend to be a physicist and use sciencey words to retrofit modern cosmology to my primitive, crude, vague theistic sensibilities, and religion explains the universe better than physics because I can make up any ol’ shit I want.
Carroll: No, you get everything wrong, you’ve quote-mined and misinterpreted all these papers you cite, and cosmological theories must be rigorous and describe details of the universe beyond simply “it started”.
Carroll is speaking with authority — he knows this stuff, and it shows. This is why qualified scientists with expertise in public communication are so important — they can talk about the real science with depth, and recognize when their opponent is spouting bafflegab.
Really, I don’t know this stuff. Except now I’m learning a lot from listening to Sean Carroll. It would be nicer if Craig would shut up, sit down, and try to learn something too, since he is so far out of his depth.
They’ve locked the video down and made it private. I’m sorry to see that; Carroll was extremely edifying and did a terrific job of exposing Craig’s pretenses. Maybe it will be made available later, or we’ll just have to keep reading Sean Carroll’s blog to learn what physics really says.
My Armor: “Debating” Christianity with an Atheist
What does the Bible say in regard to discussing Christianity with not just non-believers, but atheists? Most atheists become convinced of their stance toward God from an intellectual point of view. But remember- there are a lot of really bright ...
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After informing us of her environmentalist cred — she drives a hybrid car and has solar panels on her home! — Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of Science magazine, makes a remarkable statement.
I believe it is time to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from the tar sands deposits of Alberta, Canada, and from the Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
She’d better have a really good argument for why an environmentalist ought to support the Keystone XL pipeline, given that it is a great big leaky pipe full of death that will feed America’s oil addiction. Really good. Blow my socks off with an ultra-potent, evidence-based argument, please. And here it is.
Even after accepting that Keystone XL would not accelerate extraction of the Canadian oil sands, I still opposed the project because the pipeline would cross environmentally sensitive regions, such as the Sandhills of Nebraska, a natural wetland that supports many species, including migratory birds, and the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest groundwater resources. The project’s developers, the TransCanada Corporation, modified the pipeline to avoid sensitive areas and have promised comprehensive monitoring and state-of-the-art shutoff valves to reduce risk to the environment. No method for moving hydrocarbons can be considered completely fail-safe. At least the current permitting process can, and should, be used to ensure that Keystone XL sets new standards for environmental safety.
That’s it? The Canadians are going to continue to turn Alberta into a toxic craphole even if we don’t build the pipeline, they made a slight detour to avoid the most sensitive parts of our environment (but it’s still a great big dribbly fragile source of poison bisecting the US from Canada to Louisiana), and…
Fuck me, Transcanada promised to be really, really careful.
Then she makes the tepid suggestion that we ought to let them build their colossal douchehose of noxious blight, and ask them nicely to contribute some small fraction of their pollution profits towards research in alternative energy.
Seriously? That’s it? That was so pathetic and unconvincing, it couldn’t possibly persuade anyone. But somehow, that’s enough to get the editor-in-chief of one of the most prominent science journals in the world to change her mind.
This does not add up.
McNutt M (2014) Keystone XL. Science 343(6173):815.
Atheist group to La Crosse police: Stop using chaplains
Green Bay Press Gazette
LA CROSSE — A Wisconsin-based group of atheists has asked the La Crosse Police Department to stop using chaplains, arguing that they violate the constitutional separation of church and state. The Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a letter to ...
Atheist group objects to police chaplainsWXOW.com
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Atheist Group Tells Michigan City Council to Stop Praying on Taxpayers' Time
An atheist organization has sent a letter of complaint to a city council in Michigan over the local government's usage of prayer at council meetings. The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has threatened legal action against the ...
Quick, everyone! Get out your Bingo cards!
The International Congress of Quantum Chemistry is going to be held next year, and they announced their preliminary speaker list: it was entirely made up of men. This is not surprising. It’s held by the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences, which is almost entirely made up of men, too.
Notably, there are only four female scientists among the 110 living members of IAQMS, which elects new candidates by internal vote. Ten out of 102 talks during the previous three conference were given by women, and only two female chemists have been awarded medals over the past decade, according to the instigators of the boycott.
I’ve highlighted the bit about how this kind of sexism is perpetuated. It takes a real effort by existing members of the organization to break up bad habits…and it doesn’t sound as if some members are interested, despite the fact that there is an online list of women in quantum chemistry that would make it easy to find interesting women to invite.
Cue the excuses:
Zhigang Shuai, a professor at Tsinghua University in China and chair of this year’s ICQC, wrote a letter to explain that one woman had been among the original invitees, but had not responded
There might be women in our second choices!
many of the people on the original list were obligatory selections
There aren’t any women of obligatory importance in the field.
And then, of course, the Asshat Backlash. Here’s Professor James Kress, complaining about all those people complaining about discrimination on a chemistry listserv.
If you INSIST on discussing this on CCL, the please place an identifying header on all your emails so that those of us who care about SCIENCE, as opposed to trendy whining about supposed “gender inequality” and other fashionable modes of Political Correctness can at least have a hope of filtering out all of the nonsensical content and peruse the SCIENTIFIC content.
Oh, Dr Kress cannot shut up:
Inequality is a fundamental characteristic of any collection of more than one human being, he said, and suggested that if people don’t like the current conferences they should start their own. You’re not entitled to excel. You have to earn it. I guess that’s kind of an old fashioned perspective but it’s certainly mine.
Kress doubled down in a followup email. Given that everyone has unique DNA, it is scientifically certain that no two people will be identical in terms of capabilities, he wrote. ALL SORTS of differences in capabilities exist in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Math, etc. Those who work harder, overcome their capability deficient and make themselves equal to or better than their colleagues. Hard work is the way to address the capability issue and thus achieve equality.
He’s got his, and by god, he deserved it, and if you aren’t getting invited to speak at conferences, it’s entirely because you are a lazy slacker with female DNA.
So, what conferences have a problem with rampant manly privilege so far? Atheist, skeptic, science fiction, literature, philosophy, technology, and now chemistry? Did I miss any? Yeah, probably. It seems to be all of them.
In late November 2006, four years before Claire’s experience, another young woman reported a sexual assault to Sandra Corbitt, who was then the dean of women. Sarah Patten cried as she recounted how, the previous Saturday night, a boy named Ryan (whose name has been changed) had sexually assaulted her.
“I know him,” Sarah remembers Corbitt saying. “He’s a nice boy. Are you sure you want to report this?”
Sarah described what she could remember: coming in and out of consciousness, her limbs feeling heavy and paralyzed, Ryan on top of her, his hands groping her all over, waking up disoriented.
Sarah says Corbitt grilled her on certain details: What was she wearing? Had she flirted with him or given him mixed signals? “The entire line of questioning was basically like, ‘Did you make it up? Or did you deserve it in some way? Or was it consensual and now you’re just lying about it to make him look bad?’ ” recalls Rachel Leon, Sarah’s roommate who had accompanied her to Corbitt’s office for support.
Listening to Sarah from across her desk, the dean was as polite as ever. But she didn’t seem to believe Sarah’s story at all. “If you were telling the truth about this,” Sarah remembers Corbitt saying, “God would have kept you conscious to bear witness to the abuse against you.”
Wow. God confers resistance to date rape drugs.